Lead dust elimination basics
October 29, 2011 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Lead dust contaminated apartment.

We recently (yesterday) learned that our apartment is contaminated with high levels of lead dust due to recent unsafe renovation work by our new landlords.

The local public agency which did the testing has ordered the landlord to immediately hire a lead-certified contractor to clean our apartment. After the cleaning the agency will re-test and order more remediation if the lead is not gone.

We are working to get our blood lead level testing done on Monday, and will cooperate in the cleaning of course. We are just wondering what to expect and how to handle the remediation --

What is the experience of having a lead dust elimination cleaning contractor in one's living space?

What do we do with our clothes and bedding -- is washing them sufficient? Books? Dishes? Dog beds? Other possessions?

The contamination is throughout our living space. We are considering moving out until the cleaning is done but with three adults, two dogs, and one cat, that's a bit overwhelming. We are always careful with food preparation and we wash our hands frequently, and are taking more care than ever now.

(One of our neighbors in the building has a child and moved out yesterday due to the lead levels.)


the toxic-i-fied 99 percent
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I had that done post 9/11, there was a large crew, maybe 20. each person was responsible for a top-to-bottom cleaning of a vertical swath. They would unscrew light bulbs and wipe them off, dust every ledge, vacuum every indentation.

They were mostly Hispanic, and they really appreciated it when I put on some Latin music.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2011

StickyCarpet, how did you handle your clothes and other possessions?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:56 AM on October 29, 2011

When I had an apartment lead-abated with some paint sanding and scraping of windows, they sealed all entrances and set up a negative pressure environment. This meant a HEPA-filter on a blower sucking air from the room and exhausting the filtered air outside of the work area. The workers wore moon suits and respirators, and it took about a week for them to do a 1.5 bedroom apartment.
posted by zippy at 11:57 AM on October 29, 2011

Ugh, that sounds stressful! Hopefully from your wording you haven't been being exposed for very long, and thus your blood lead levels won't be much elevated - good that you'll have that information.

The good thing here is that it's dust - wet mopping and other damp methods of cleaning should remove the dust, and thus reduce the hazard until the crew is done. You can simply wash your clothes and bedding and dogs and dogs beds as you normally would. Store foods in the fridge or tight containers and wash as needed, too, to be sure that lead dust hasn't settled on foods you'll eat. I'm thinking they'll probably wipe down things like books for you. While lead is still a risk for adults, it's a much worse risk for kids, so if the city health folks didn't say you should move out, I'd guess you don't need to - they're usually pretty protective. Good luck!

IARA, IANYRA (I am a risk assessor, but not your risk assessor)
posted by ldthomps at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2011

Thanks, all. We are washing washing whatever we can. Not sure about wool things that are ordinarily dry cleaned ...
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2011

StickyCarpet, how did you handle your clothes and other possessions?

Fabrics were removed to an offsite cleaner. The books and other objects were boxed and removed before room cleaning, and then individually wiped and vacuumed as they were replaced.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:23 PM on October 29, 2011

Your landlord should be responsible for the costs involved. When you handle items, you're disturbing and inhaling lead-contaminated dust; I would let the remediation team take care of it. If anyone has any elevated blood lead levels, I would move until the remediation is complete. Lead stays in your body a long time, and causes a lot of low-level health issues.
posted by theora55 at 7:22 AM on October 30, 2011

Just a quick update -- the professional lead cleaners have started and we are in a motel until the lead is removed.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:36 PM on November 2, 2011

PS my lead level just came back -- normal!!!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:02 AM on November 3, 2011

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